See if you remember these 10 Christmas specials from the 1980s
Pac-Man, the Chipmunks, Garfield and soulful raisins all celebrated the season.
Images, clockwise from left: The Everett Collection, Hanna-Barbera, CBS
Nothing says Christmas like singing raisins and glow-in-the-dark larvae. Well, at least in the Eighties. Television networks aired holiday specials inspired by the popular toys, video games, newspaper comic strips and even commercials of the era. Which is how you ended up with Pac-Man meeting St. Nick and Hasbro dolls saving Santa.
There were some more serious live-action affairs based on the classics, too.
Take a trip backwards in time through some overlooked Christmas specials from the '80s. Do you remember watching these?
1. A Garfield Christmas Special
The lasagna-loving feline begins his Christmas carol singing the praises of presents and precious gems. (Lou Rawls was singing, too.) A trip to the Arbuckle farm — inspired by creator Jim Davis' own Christmas past in Indiana — taught Garfield the true meaning of the holiday. Typically bundled alongside A Charlie Brown Christmas, A Garfield Christmas Special aired on CBS up until about the turn of the millennium.
Image: DHX Media
2. A Claymation Christmas Celebration
The California Raisins went from dried fruit mascot to collectible toy to pop-culture sensation. This special, which premiered on the same night as A Garfield Christmas, saw the singing, stop-motion Raisins performing "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," but the segment most likely remembered was a clever "Carol of the Bells" played by the bells themselves, whacking their noggins with mallets.
3. Babes in Toyland
The made-for-TV movie gathered an unlikely assortment of talent — in hindsight, at least. Drew Barrymore, hot off cinematic horror hits Firestarter and Cat's Eye, starred in this retelling of the traditional operetta. Oh, and it had Keanu Reeves, in one of his earliest lead roles, not to mention a scary cyclops bird monster that sticks in our memories/nightmares. These budding stars were under the direction of Clive Donner, who had helmed Woody Allen's What's New Pussycat? (1965) and The Nude Bomb (1980), the Get Smart movie. Oh, he also directed the film two spots below…
Image: The Everett Collection
4. The GLO Friends Save Christmas
A hot Christmas present at the time — perhaps you remember the stuffed green larvae with little sleeping caps — the popular Glo Worm dolls got a Christmas special, which led to a regular cartoon series, that aired as a segment in My Little Pony. In this Yuletide tale, a witch named Blanche (perhaps someone at Hasbro disliked The Golden Girls?) locks Santa in a cage of ice.
5. A Christmas Carol
If you can play Patton, you can play Scrooge. George C. Scott starred as the "Bah, Humbug!" icon in this umpteenth retelling of the Dickens classic, that actually stays remarkably true to the source material.
Image: The Everett Collection
6. Christmas Comes to Pac-Land
It ain't exactly Charles Dickens, but it was at least animated by the pros at Hanna-Barbera. Marty Ingels, a sitcom legend who had starred in I'm Dickens, He's Fenster with John Astin back in 1962, voiced the yellow arcade hero.
7. Ziggy's Gift
Ziggy, the little bald comic strip character known for his misfortunes, helped those less fortunate in his charming cartoon special. Written by the character's creator Tom Wilson, the first and only Ziggy special saw Ziggy and his pooch Fuzz play Santa on the street to raise money for the poor. Ziggy may never speak, but there was delightful music from Harry Nilsson. The special won an Emmy.
Image: ABC / Universal Press Syndicate
8. A Chipmunk Christmas
Alvin, Simon and Theodore first celebrated Christmas way back in 1958, when the high-pitched novelty song "The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don't Be Late)," reached No. 1 on the Billboard pop charts and garnered three Grammys. (That really all happened.) Surprisingly, it took 23 years to turn that pop success into an animated special, a decade after the death of Chipmunks creator Ross Bagdasarian. Chuck Jones, the brilliant Looney Tunes cartoonist, crafted this special for NBC.
Image: The Everett Collection
9. B.C.: A Special Christmas
Yep, another special from the pages of the newspaper funnies. These cavemen beat Ziggy and Garfield to Christmas special status. It's easy to forget how huge B.C. was at the time. Arby's even sold collectible B.C. glasses in 1981.
Image: Cinera Productions Limited
10. A Snow White Christmas
We're not in Disneyland anymore. This special was a sequel to the classic fairy tale, and had no relation to the 1937 Disney film, though the Evil Queen looked rather similar. In this tale, the original Snow White is now queen — and mother to a daughter also named Snow White. The young Snow White actually has white hair, because I suppose that name was confusing to kids before?
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bragging about her rock-hard abs and challenging him to punch them!
A Charlie Brown Christmas is my favorite. But I think that came out in 1965.
And I also like the "A Snow White Christmas" special that was made in 1980, even with the small differences, like the fact that, instead of the dwarves, there were the "Seven Friendly Giants" that helped the little girl named "Snow White", who was being pursued by the Wicked Queen.
And of course, there's the 1981 "A Chipmunk Christmas", or at least I hope it's the one that I recall. The one where Alvin gives his trusty "Golden Harmonica" to a sick boy, but then has to raise some money to buy another one for himself so that he can perform a harmonica solo in a Christmas Eve Festival, and do it without letting David Seville know that he gave away his old harmonica. That is something that I would love to see again.
I've heard of the 1984 version of "A Christmas Carol", with George C. Scott as Ebenezzer Scrooge. I'm a big fan of Mr. Scott, but sadly, I've never cared for this version of the classic story. I'm more into the '1938' version with Reginald Owen, the '1951' version with Alastair Sim, the '1999' version that made and shown on the T.N.T. Network and starred Patrick Stewart, known to all of us as Jean-Luc Picard from "Star Trek: The Next Generation". And there was an American version of the story made in 1979, and starred Henry Winkler. And of course, I like all the cartoon versions of the story, including the one made about ten years ago, with Jim Carrey playing not only the role of Scrooge, but of the Christmas Ghosts that visit Scrooge to try and reform him. Now that one was definitely a work of genius to say the least.
And finally, and it is with the deepest of humilities that I must say that I don't recall any of the other shows mentioned in this story. Although I do remember these characters from seeing them in the Funny papers and from watching them on T.V., I wasn't aware that Christmas specials were made with them in them, I'm sorry to say. But, now that I am aware of this information, I will do my very best to keep my eyes out for them with the hope that they with air again on T.V. in the near future, along with the previous ones that I had just talked about earlier.
I hope that you all will get a real kick out of what I posted here today. In fact, I would appreciate it if any of you would kindly respond to this post A.S.A.P., and give me some feedback on what you think of it, okey-dokey? Meanwhile, you all take care and have a nice day, and before I forget...
MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!